Selling a gun with a known defect

Let’s assume you purchased a new gun that within 100 rounds had 3 trigger failures. Obviously, the gun is unreliable so you want to get rid of it. Let’s assume you fully disclosed the nature of the failures to the new buyer. A few weeks later, the buyer is injured/killed trying to use the gun which had a trigger malfunction. Can the seller be sued?

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Curious. If it is new, why would you sell it at a huge loss as opposed to sending it back to the factory for repairs?

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They can attempt to sue for anything and everything, real or perceived. We are talking civil, not criminal. Think of all the cases where the criminal sues the victim. The question is, how can you prove that you fully disclosed the nature of the issues with the firearm to defend yourself. Did you disclose it in an email or text message that you can retain “just in case?”

But, here would be my question. If you purchased a new firearm and you were having issues with it right away, why not contact the manufacturer to see if they will make it right first? Many firearms companies have amazing customer service.

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Great question. My hypothetical should have been more specific. Let’s assume the trigger issue had been experienced by others. In this case, certainly the original buyer should have exercised better diligence. In my view, it would be unconscionable for the original buyer to sell the gun, even if the issue were disclosed. In the hypothetical, I’d counsel the buyer to keep the gun and hope for a factory recall. I was just curious if others felt the same way.

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The Pope can be sued for bastardy, so anyone can be sued for anything. Now whether the court gives it any standing is another question. Also whomever the seller is better have it notarized and multiple videos that show that they told the seller of all known defects and I still wouldn’t count on winning.

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Agree.

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Simple solution for all the problems after the sell - good and properly formed FIREARM BILL OF SALE.

[…]The Seller assumes that no responsibility after the transfer of ownership of the Firearm […]
[…]The Buyer accepts receipt of the Firearm described herein and understands and acknowledges that the firearm is sold “as is” condition without any guarantees of warranties of any kind, either express of implied […]
Illinois Firearm Bill of Sale (Rev 133EE8E)

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Regardless of when you purchased it, there is no need to sit on the firearm and have it continue to malfunction and only use it at the range.

Go to a gunsmith or armorer and have it repaired.

If it was disclosed and you got a good deal, like a real good deal, the cost of repair should not be prohibitive.

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@Al19 Welcome to the community, we are glad to have you here. stay safe, Bruce and Nancy. :+1:
Hope your question was answered. As with any fire arm sale document, document, document.

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I want to thank everyone for their thoughtful remarks. Of course all I did was to pose a hypothetical. If a situation like the one posed actually happens, at least the person will have the benefit of experienced opinions.

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Hi Al and welcome. The simple answer is ANYONE can be sued. Asking if you can be sued is silly since there are thousands of frivolous lawsuits out there and more everyday. Whether or not they can win would be a better way to phrase it. So regarding whether or not you can be sued and found guilty…maybe. It really comes down to how the sale was made. Did you put on the receipt that there were trigger issues? Did you send it into the manufacturer for repair? Did you do your due diligence to ensure it was usable when you sold it?

Frankly when anyone buys a used firearm, there’s an assumption of risk…heck there’s even an assumption of risk buying a new firearm. Firearms are deadly and we all know that. We assume the risk that they might blow up in our faces or suffer a catastrophic failure and cause injury or death to us or others. So, could someone win a case against you because of a trigger? Maybe, depending on the judge, the city/county, and any number of variables. How do you protect yourself? Take the necessary precautions so you don’t get sued. Send it back to the manufacturer and then sell it. That way they verified for you it was in working order and if it does cause injury, it’s on them and not you.

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I would strongly reconsider selling a defective firearm to anyone. Beyond the Civil liability aspect, it just feels like a mistake to me.

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Absolutely agree.

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Eric. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I posted the hypothetical because I’m seeing posts on YouTube in which people are claiming certain guns have factory defects. If the manufacturer claims nothing is wrong, what is your recourse? I’m getting the sense the USCCA members generally agree with me. You NEVER pass a defective gun on to a fellow owner, even if you disclose it. We need to be a united community and look out for one another.

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Yes, to some degree.

Defective is often a subjective term. I own a “defective” gun and have put more than 1000 rounds through it without issue. It’s been listed as having a manufacturer’s defect and I’ve sent it in to have it serviced but not before putting a lot of rounds through it. Most firearm buyers put between 100-200 rounds through their weapon and store them for emergencies. Only those of us who consider ourselves shooters tend to put 1000+ rounds monthly through our weapons. So, I always suspect I’ll experience defects and issues more than my cousin who has put maybe 50 rounds through his firearm. When we use and shoot the weapons more, we’re more likely to see and experience the defects than most other people. I don’t have any expert data to back up my feeling, it’s just my personal feeling. So, selling a weapon that “could” have a trigger issue at some point during it’s use…well, it “could not” have an issue also so really in the hands of someone who may not put many rounds through it, I’d wager it’s less likely to have issue than if you or I owned it and put 1000’s of rounds through it. I guess to me what I’m saying is, I think in some cases it’s fine but that you should definitely send it into the manufacturer to ensure they sign off on it.

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I once bought a 19 HMR with scope from a pawn shop. I took it out and the scope was still sighted in. After some rounds ran through it, it would miss fire. I thought it was the ammo but, it apparently was not. Now, if I sold this gun to someone and they were injured or killed from that gun I would not put it pass someone trying to sue you for it. I have heard of a person suing someone when they got injured breaking into a business. So, anyone can sue you for any reason, McDonalds’ coffee was hot and they got burnt, they actually won that case. I heard of a guy trying to sue the DOD for promoting alcohol and making him an alcoholic. I doubt he won.
So, can you be sued? YES. Can they win? Depends on how good the lawyer is.

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I will need to check again, but last I heard, that verdict was overturned and McDonald’s had won.

Hot coffee put between your legs while wearing shorts is not a sign of high intellect, but we all have brain farts from time to time…

But you are correct, anyone can sue at anytime but it does not mean they will win… and yes, I heard about a case where a criminal broke into a house and got injured and sued the homeowner. While sitting in prison for breaking and entering, he won the lawsuit (again, will need to check for updates to see if it was overturned), because the homeowner had tools lying around and the dining room floor was partially missing while they remodeled.
The court said he did not have warning signs posted…(everyone in the house who was SUPPOSED to be in the house already knew and did not need warning signs)

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Mrs. Liebeck offered to settle the case for $20,000 to cover her medical expenses and lost income. But McDonald’s never offered more than $800, so the case went to trial. The jury found Mrs. Liebeck to be partially at fault for her injuries, reducing the compensation for her injuries accordingly. But the jury’s punitive damages award made headlines — upset by McDonald’s unwillingness to correct a policy despite hundreds of people suffering injuries, they awarded Liebeck the equivalent of two days’ worth of revenue from coffee sales for the restaurant chain. That wasn’t, however, the end of it. The original punitive damage award was ultimately reduced by more than 80 percent by the judge. And, to avoid what likely would have been years of appeals, Mrs. Liebeck and McDonald’s later reached a confidential settlement.

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Welcome to the family! @Al19 you’re in the right place!

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@Al19.Welcome to the community,train hard and stay safe. :smiley: